The ‘New Normal’ in Banking Could Leave You Broke

Dear Rich Lifer,

The days of walking into your local bank branch to cash a check are over.

Since the pandemic took hold in March and stay-at-home orders followed, bank branches were forced to close their doors, sending a flood of customers online.

According to Fidelity National Information Services, April saw a 200 percent jump in new mobile banking registrations, while mobile banking traffic rose 85 percent.

This sudden uptick in traffic didn’t go unnoticed either…

Fraud experts warn this ‘new normal’ of online banking will create a flood of scammers trying to take advantage of the new crop of online bankers.

The coronavirus pandemic has created the perfect storm for bank fraud. But the good news is you have the power to fight back.

Whether you’re new to online banking or you’re a seasoned pro, we have some tips for you today to help safeguard your money during these unprecedented times.

Don’t get hooked by phishing scams

The first scam to watch out for are phishing scams. These are where fraudsters try to pry sensitive information from you unknowingly.

Phishing attacks account for about 90 percent of data breaches online.

They come in the form of emails or text messages that look legitimate from your financial institution. And they typically have some sort of phony request that requires your immediate attention.

They’ll ask you to click a link or call a customer support line to resolve a problem with your account or to update your profile information.

What’s really going on here is these scammers have boiler rooms filled with deviants phishing for any kind of information that will grant them access to your bank account, from social security numbers, to security questions like your mother’s maiden name, the street you grew up on, etc. 

Some phishing attackers will even use legitimate information about you that they gathered from prior data breaches or that you’ve made public from social media accounts. They’ll leverage this information in an attempt to build trust with you before they pry for more information.

The good news is most phishing scams are executed from hackers in far away countries, so some tell-tale signs include poor grammar, misspellings, and odd-looking email or sent-from addresses.

Remember that your bank will never ask you for personal information through email or text message. That includes an email or text message asking you to call them to verify sensitive information.

Skip the automatic login

Nowadays your web browser has the ability to save usernames and passwords to a variety of websites and online portals you frequent.

This of course is convenient, however, it can leave you vulnerable to fraud. If someone were to steal your laptop or gain access to your phone, they can now easily login to your bank account without any resistance.

It’s best to avoid automatic logins, especially if you use your phone or any portable device like a laptop or tablet for online banking.

Mobile beats desktop

Speaking of mobile banking, most banks have mobile apps that you can login to from your phone instead of from your desktop computer.

We’d encourage you to use your bank’s mobile app instead of your desktop browser because they’re less likely to get hit by malicious attacks.

While there’s no guarantee that your phone can’t get hacked, it’s less common. Using your network data to login to your bank’s mobile app will provide you with the best protection.

Side note: Never use public wi-fi to login to your bank account online. If you’re stuck somewhere and need to access your accounts through public wi-fi, only do so if you have a Virtual Private Network (VPN) setup on your device. This will protect you from hackers nearby when it’s turned on. 

Keep your devices up to date

If you’ve been putting off updates on your phone or computer because you can’t bear waiting for the updates to download and then install, don’t wait any longer. 

If your device is months or a year behind in updates, you won’t have the latest protection against known security breaches and malware. Simply keeping your devices up to date is one of the easiest ways to stay safe.

Secure your devices

Another easy way to secure your phone or laptop is by having a pin or password that unlocks your device. Some newer phones even have fingerprint and facial recognition software.

Whatever security options you have at your disposal, you should be taking full advantage. This way, if your phone ever gets stolen, it’s less likely a random stranger can access your private information or login to your accounts. 

Know when your money moves

Some banks now give you the option to get text message alerts about your account activity. If a large sum of money is drawn from your account, you’ll get notified.

These notifications are also helpful to see when money is deposited into your account. Should there be any suspicious activity, you’ll get notified and you can quickly contact your bank and freeze your accounts.

Don’t be lazy, check your statements

Finally, one of the best habits to get into is setting time in your calendar every month to read through your bank statements. It’s not the most exciting appointment you’ll ever make but it can draw your attention to a number of things like overspending and suspicious activity. 

Your bank might miss fraudulent activity if it’s in small amounts. By checking your statements on a regular basis, you ensure nothing is being overlooked and that your money is where it should be.

While online banking has its potential risks, the pros tend to far outweigh the cons once you get the hang of this new normal for banking. By following these best practices, you’ll avoid the most common pitfalls and keep your money safe.

To a richer life,

 The Rich Life Roadmap Team

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